• Fri, Oct 11 - 10:32 am ET

Glee’s Tribute Was Perfect For Finn Hudson, But Somewhat Disrespectful Toward Cory Monteith

Find Hudson memorial glee tribute episode

Last night’s Glee tribute did a wonderful job of celebrating the life of Finn Hudson, the fictional high school quarterback played by Cory Monteith. However it did a pretty poor job of honoring Cory Monteith, the Glee actor who tragically died of a drug overdose this summer.

When the news first broke about Cory’s death and conversation turned to how Glee would respond, I thought their initial ideas were right on. They would have Finn die on the show of unknown causes and honor his memory through song. However as the episode drew closer and as we learned more about how Cory Monteith’s struggle with addiction, the whole thing started to seem more like a ratings stunt and less like a tribute. We listened to Lea Michele say odd things about losing two people (Finn and Cory) and we listened to Mike O’Malley ask people to watch both this tribute and his new show and we started to feel uncomfortable. If this was just a very special episode about a character dying, it would be fine. But it wasn’t. A real life person died. Somewhere along the line that seemed to have gotten lost.

RIP hallway glee tribute episode cory monteith

After watching the episode, I can’t help but feel that they did Cory’s memory a dishonor by obscuring how he died on the show. At one point early on, Kurt says something along the lines of, “everyone wants to talk about how he died, but that was just one moment in his entire life.” Which, I’ll admit, is a lovely thought on the surface. No addict wants to be defined by their addiction. But it’s an irresponsible thought for a show to express when they know so many young people are watching. His addiction might not have defined him, but it most definitely killed him. By pretending that it wasn’t a big part of his life, that it was just a moment, is to pretend that he was in control of the situation. We already live in a society where addicts are blamed for their addictions. So it does a real disservice to them to perpetuate that myth with quotes like this. Addiction is not a moment, it’s not one bad decision, it’s a debilitating condition that rarely ends well for the addict.

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Some might argue that this episode wasn’t about Cory, but instead about Finn Hudson. But it wasn’t. Not only because the hashtag #rememberingcory was at the bottom of the screen throughout the entire episode, but because Cory Moneith played Finn Hudson and their stories are completely intertwined — whether Ryan Murphy likes it or not. While there were certainly moments that made me tear up, there were more moments where I felt manipulated by the episode. It was designed to make you cry rather than to make you reflect.

We, and I’m speaking for all the people who don’t personally know Cory Monteith, don’t get to cry over this death for weeks on end. We don’t get to mourn him and talk about him and tell people how his death affects us. We didn’t know him and pretending otherwise is selfish and insensitive to everyone who did. His memory can best be honored by working to prevent another death like his. And the best way to do that is to acknowledge his addiction and acknowledge that fighting it is an uphill battle that requires knowledge, patience and honesty.

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If Glee really wanted to honor Cory Monteith, they could’ve done some kind of telethon where the actors (not the characters) sang songs and raised money for drug addiction. They could’ve informed their fans that Finn would no longer be on the show for obvious reasons and that out of his respect for his life and his tragic death, they would not be talking about him on the show. I know that’s hard for fans of the show, but it’s just a show and Finn was just a character on it. Cory Monteith was a real live person who deserved better than this.

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  • The Redhead

    They really didn’t acknowledge Corey at all except for that last 30 second blurb about addiction at the end. It would have been nice if they cut the episode short and maybe had the cast actually share their favorite memories.

    I know they wanted to sweep the whole addiction thing under the rug, but there was an important lesson that could have been taught here. By not talking about it we are just putting more shame on those who struggle. If I hear one more person say “Who cares? He was just a junkie!” The fact is, you CAN be a good likeable person and be an addict.
    I think a lot of people just can’t understand or have compassion for those with addiction problems until it happens to someone they love.

    • Jenni

      This is exactly how I felt about it. By not mentioning addiction, it made it into a shameful thing.

    • Jenny

      But, you know, if they’d adressed his addiction, it’s kinda be like this special on the dangers of drug abuse, wouldn’t it? I feel like that would take away from his memory, a little.

    • Jenni

      But wouldn’t it honor his memory to help people in a similar situation?

    • The Redhead

      If he had died of cancer no one would think twice about mentioning it. I think that because it’s addiction people feel that it is an insult to acknowledge how it happened.

    • Jenni

      Agreed.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Well we could destroy capitalism which is at the root of the addiction epidemic.

  • Sam Inoue

    Most shows that have an actor die kill the character so that the show can move on. Also they shouldn’t have had him die like the actor because they aren’t the same and it wasn’t about that. I know they were dedicating the episode to Cory, but they were making it about the character because its tv and the character was never an addict. This episode was about celebrating and morning the character that Cory created, with a dedication to the real person I think thats why they purposely kept his real life struggles out of it. Everyone knows his death was a hideous tragedy. I personally found the episode hard to watch because in reality I am so disconnected from this real person that I almost felt uncomfortable knowing that even when they said a character name they were talking about a real once living person, I know thats stupid to feel uncomfortable when watching people cry but I find it hard when its not someone I really know so I don’t know how to feel about it.

    • The Redhead

      I agree. Finn is a character, not Corey. If the way they chose to deal with the situation is to have the character die, then yes, the death needs to be in tune with Finn’s life. But it was written in a way where it was like “Let’s not talk about how it happened”, which made it weird and like they were trying to hide something. I think I would have preferred they just say “accident”, and leave it at that.

    • Sam Inoue

      True that is a little odd, not talking about it and all that just seems like poor writing and only halfway dealing with it.

  • Alana

    Maybe they couldn’t/didn’t want to mourn their friend (boyfriend) publicly. Maybe it was just easier for them to play at mourning Finn in public so that they could retain some semblance of privacy. Maybe it is not your place to judge how those closest to him deal with his death. Do not ask them to make a spectacle of their grief while pretending that’s what you don’t want. You are saying they should have mourned Cory more publicly, but that is a terrible thing to ask of someone. They mourn Finn in public and Cory in private, and thus are able to keep the real person close to them instead of sharing him with the world.

    • Jenni

      But they did mourn Cory in public, the actors have said that those are real tears. As much as we want to separate Finn from Cory, that’s simply not possible. I think crying real tears for a fake person defines making a spectacle of grief.

    • Alana

      But don’t you see a difference between what they did and if the cast had had to share real memories of their time with Cory? Or if they had to talk about addiction? Those things, those memories, are private. All we see and hear from them is what they want us to. We don’t know the truth about their lives/relationships/pain, so maybe its best not to judge.

    • Jenni

      I guess I felt like giving us this episode, where they openly talked about the actors crying during the filming, made me feel like were eavesdropping on their real grief.

    • Alana

      I just think its really dangerous to judge any one else’s experience with grief. We can’t know how they feel, and since we didn’t know him, we don’t get an opinion.

    • Jenny

      But can they help it? Can Lea act like she’s crying for Finn? Is that even possible. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so…

  • Mike K

    You act like this is the first time a show has killed one of its characters because the actor has died, it’s not. Through out TV history there have been many times a character on the show has died and the show has killed off its character and paid tribute to the person/character. Some have given reasons for the characters death, some haven’t and in some cases built an entire season around. Was it a very personal episode of Glee last night? Yes. Were they trying to manipulate the audience? No. Did they honor him and his character? Yes.

    • Jenni

      How did they honor Cory?

    • Mike K

      Because they didn’t crap on his character (or him for that matter), but they honored his character. Which has been the most important part of his life and something he would want. They celebrated his character, which despite his troubles was the most important thing to him. All that reflects and honors him. The most important thing they did was not focus on the way Finn died and didn’t setup up as this PSA against addiction or anything. they focused on what they loved about the guy, it just so happens that the guy and his character meant the same to the actors and their characters. It should show you something about him and his character that they always found a way to keep him in the show despite him graduating. The loved him, they loved Finn and in the end they honored both. You might not like the way they did it because it made you feel “uncomfortable” as you put it, but like I said, they’re not the first show to kill a character and acknowledge an actor’s real death for the reason they killed off a character on a show. It happens and will unfortunately happen again.

    • Jenni

      You really think that the Glee cast felt the same way about Finn as they did about Cory? Let’s give them more credit than that. Especially Lea Michele.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Word.

    • Mike K

      Yes and no, but you misunderstand what I’m getting at. In some ways Finn was Cory, just as much as Cory was Finn. For most of the show’s audience, they only know Finn. For the cast, they knew both (Cory and Finn), so when creating a tribute episode they have to be conscious about that fact and I think they were. Yes it sucks the way he died, but they didn’t take that as an opportunity to ruin his legacy by killing Finn in a way that dishonors Finn which is something that was very important to him and important to everyone that worked on the show. There is a reason they acknowledged the fact that Finn was the show’s Quarterback. For what its worth, Cory was their Quarterback (behind the scenes) as they acknowledged many times before. they decided to celebrate Finn, “#RememberingCory” was more for the cast, as the remembered what he meant to them, what he meant to the show and what he meant to the audience. so when you asked me how they honored him, that’s how.

  • Metchum12

    I guess the episode should have ignored Cory the person, his life, the human being and spend the entire episode on his drug addiction. Nice.
    I mean Cory doesn’t matter, his drug addiction matters more.

    In fact, when John Ritter died and they said goodbye to Paul and John, they should have ignored John Ritter, the human being, and spent more time on the guy who died of a heart problem. I mean that’s all John was right? Same with Cory. Let’s not celebrate his life, the people who loved him, let’s make this episode all about the guy who died of a drug overdose.

    • Jenni

      I think dying of an unexpected heart attack is very different than dying of a years long drug addiction.

    • Metchum12

      I don’t care. The reviewer is making Cory out to be this druggie whose addiction is more important than the man himself. It sickens me.

    • Jenni

      Okay, this is awkward, but I AM the reviewer. (Inception?)

    • Metchum12

      Well, like I said, YOU are the one being disrespectful towards Cory. You seem to care more about Cory’s addiction than you do about Cory the person. Cory wasn’t a bad person and he sure doesn’t need his name smeared for some dumb political statement. Cory was a human being and his faults should not be put in a TRIBUTE. Btw, would you want your daughters or sons drug habits announced at a FUNERAL? So why the hell would they mention Cory’s addiction in a TRIBUTE?

    • Jenni

      Because ignoring is the same as saying that he did something wrong. He was suffering from an addiction.

    • Metchum12

      CORY suffered an addiction NOT Finn. Get it right. I’m done with you. You see cory as nothing but a drug addict and you sicken me.

    • Jenni

      Yes, and that’s why I said it was a great tribute for Finn.

    • Brandy McNamee

      You’ve got it right, too bad some people can’t see past their own idiocy. *cough, cough* Metchum12 *cough, cough*

    • SHUT.UP.

      God, you’re a DICK.

    • Brandy McNamee

      Rude much?

  • Guest

    “We didn’t know him and pretending otherwise is selfish and insensitive to everyone who did.”

    Then why are you pretending like you did? This article is incredibly disrespectful. The only people who understand this loss more than anyone else are Cory’s friends and family. If they approved it, then it really isn’t our place to comment on it. You’re right about one thing. We didn’t know him. But those that did were responsible for the episode and they knew what he would have liked. I learned a long time ago that everyone mourns in their own way and it’s unfair to judge others for how they grieve.

  • rainman6672001

    Why are we even celebrating yet another star who “had Problems?” First people celebrated a child molester(MJ), then another stupid rich person who OD’d (Whitney Houston, and now this loser. You really want to make some sort of statement, lets celebrate the thousands of people who decide that getting clean is better than the next fix, and clean their lives up….not these junkie/loser celebrities who die from their own stupidity.

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